Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Regrettable Lutheran Arguments for the Real Presence

"On a more frivolous note- although it was meant to be taken quite seriously- Luther's supporter Johann Brenz attempted a novel refutation of Zwingli's insistence that the body of Christ is physically present at the right hand of God in heaven. Brenz computed the distance between the earth and heaven by means of his own, and arrived at the distance of 16,338,562 German miles. Given the speed of Jesus' ascent from the Mount of Olives, as Brenz estimated it, Brenz concluded that the body of Jesus could not yet have reached heaven by the sixteenth century" (Harold O.J. Brown, Heresies (Grand rapids: Baker books, 1984), 325).

9 comments:

Brigitte said...

NA. Benz must have been teasing Zwingli.

Brigitte said...

Sorry, Brenz, never heard of him.

Brigitte said...

In another place, I have had long-standing conversation with an older English professor. His father was a Presbyterian minister but he does not go to church, and goes out of the way to involve and antagonize Christians like myself.

Envisioning spiritual things in such concrete terms feeds right into this anti-Christian thinking.

He posted this from a student response for me, today, and I think the student makes a point. We cannot make heaven to be something exactly like what we know in time and space. It is indeed ridiculous.

Here is the point:
More from in-class conversational writing:" A response to response #8: I definitely agree with your conceptual understanding of God/The Universe. To me, God is an unknowable essence, not some old man with a beard in the sky. God created the universe, and we don't understand, entirely, how the universe works. Abdul-Baha, the son of the Prophet founder of the Baha'i Faith, once spoke with an atheist about God. The atheist said, "I don't believe in god." Abdul-Baha asked the man to describe this "god" he didn't believe in. The man described God as someONE in the sky who watches humanity. Abdul-Baha said that He did not believe in the same God the man didn't believe in.


End.

Of course, we can know God where he reveals himself. But we cannot speak beyond that.

Brigitte said...

Wikipedia has this:

The question concerned the doctrine of the Lord's Supper and also involved a peculiar development of Christology, which was opposed by the Lutheran theologians outside of Württemberg, since Brenz carried to its logical conclusion the concept of "personal union," thus favoring an absolute omnipresence (ubiquity) of the body of Christ, which did not begin with the ascension but with the incarnation.

Acroamaticus said...

Not really a Lutheran argument, James, but a personal view of Brenz. In fact, the Lutheran Confession's view of the nature of Christ's exalted body leads in the opposite direction from circumscribing it in space and time the way Brenz does.

Acroamaticus said...

Sorry for doubling up, James, but the first comment didn't initially appear.

Brigitte said...

From what I have read now, it can't be a personal view of Brenz. If he is picking on Zwingli, it is quite smartly done.

James Swan said...

I have trouble with trolls from time to time, so I have all the comments held and moderated. It's unfortunate.

Andrew said...

Knowing this is a couple of years late, in Brenz' 1562 response to Bullinger's "In My Father's House..." text, he uses this argument to try and point out how absurd his opponent's view is (is Jesus still on his way up to heaven?). He is concerned that people aren't reading the Bible but instead paying too much attention to philosophical arguments by people who are so caught up in their perspective on the world that they try and focus on things that one can't know with such detail as proposed (and, it turns out that with regard to how far away the stars are, he was spot on in his criticism). As far as I know the whole text remains untranslated Latin (but it is available free with google books). The text in question is on pp. 22r and 23v.